November 15, 2011
Hey, Colorado Springs, live it up!
That’s the tagline behind the city’s new branding strategy, designed to capture the city’s character for locals and tourists alike: “Live it up!”
“Everywhere I go, people tell me how lucky I am to live here,” Mayor Steve Bach said Tuesday at the brand’s unveiling. “We need to remember that when we get a little down. Everybody wants our city to be successful. This brand expresses that.”
Coming up with those three simple words — and the exclamation point — was a painstaking, $111,000 process that began in May and involved hundreds of people and organizations, followed by research in order to make sure that what all those meetings came up with would actually play with the public at large.
“There really are three major challenges in putting this together,” said Doug Price, head of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, which led the branding effort. “It had to be new, it had to be true and it had to differentiate us from our competitors.”
Likewise, Price said, it had to work for residents, tourists and the business community.
That’s a lot of responsibility to put on the shoulders of eight letters and a punctuation mark, but the slogan isn’t going it alone: The branding campaign also includes a logo, an stylized image of Pikes Peak over a swoosh.
“The colors are purple and green,” Price said. “We certainly felt that ‘purple mountains majesty’ still resonates. It’s a big part of our tradition and history and we wanted to leverage that.”
There’s also a nickname aimed strictly at locals: The Springs. Now, people who have lived here any length of time are pretty used to calling our town The Springs, but that’s kind of the point, Price said — that’s the “in the know” part of the campaign.
There are also some themes underlying the words that will be incorporated into the city’s advertising and outreach, Price said. There’s the “brand essence” of the city, which is “alive.” There’s the “brand truth,” which is “living means doing” and there’s the “brand character,” which is “rugged, vibrant and exceptional.”
The convention and visitors bureau will be using the “Live it up!” message in all of its advertising and has set up a website to help get the word out: liveitupcs.co
Doug Quimby, chairman of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., said the EDC will also be using the message in its efforts to attract and retain businesses.
“It helps us in a number of ways,” Quimby said. “We’ve never really tried to brand ourselves before. Others have created it for us, and some of those were negative.”
The EDC began thinking about a branding process in 2009 and eventually realized six other groups were pursuing the same goal, Quimby said. He said he’s pleased with the result.
“I think it’s a pretty good expression of what we’re like and what we’re about,” he said. “We’re just trying to convey that to the outside world.”
Price said the longevity of “Live it up!” will depend on whether locals buy into the brand.
“It could take on a life of its own,” he said. “That’s certainly our hope.”
Dave Norton, founder of the local branding agency Stone Mantel, which led the branding effort, said he thinks “Live it up!” will have legs. Stone Mantel came up with “Big Wild Life” for the city of Anchorage, Alaska, six years ago, Norton said, and it’s still going strong.
“I think when the other cities in Colorado realize what the tagline is and the brand, they’re going to say, ‘Oh, we should have thought of that,’” Norton said. “It’s going to last a long time.”
Most of Stone Mantel’s work is out of state, Norton said, so working on a brand for his own town was both a lot of fun and a certain amount of pressure.
“We felt the pressure,” he said. “The opportunity to work with our hometown by choice was fantastic.”
You might wonder what other options were considered along the way. Price said that the runner-up to Live it up! was “Spring into...” So, Price said, it could have been “Spring into the outdoors,” or “Spring into the arts.”
“It could have actually been a campaign,” he said.
However, Price said, “Live it up!” was the clear winner with focus groups and stakeholders.